Thursday, July 2, 2009

Don't You Just Love Index Cards?

I have a wild affinity for simple index cards. While the rest of the world is now organizing their life on electronic gadgets and cyberspace calendars, I continue to put everything I can think of on plain index cards. No, I don't calendar my day, week or life on them, but most of the events that eventually end up on my calendar do begin on index cards - more on that later.

I've learned that index cards have been around for over 100 years and the theories behind them even longer than that. Indexing began with the monks of medieval times when they attempted to organize the subject matter in books by using some sort of symbol that pointed to a subject reference on a page and then later "indexing" that material in the back of the book in what we now know as the Index. But the reason it is called an index is because the symbol used to "point out" the subject reference on a page was named for the finger you usually use to point out things - the index finger. We, of course, use sticky notes for this same sort of purpose and, instead of calling them index notes, we call them sticky notes because they are sticky! But I digress...

Later in the 1870s when Melvil Dewey attempted to index not just the subject matters in a book but the books in a library, he invented a card catalog system that used 3x5 cards for the same purpose the monks had used their index markers. Thus these 3x5 cards used to index information became what we call index cards. Aren't you so glad you now know this important information? I am because I love index cards!

What do I do with index cards, you ask? Here are a few of my favorite uses for the 3x5 or 4x6 varieties:

1. Of course I use them for recipes. Who doesn't just love a good recipe on an index card? And it doesn't have to be one of the cute ones made just for that domestic purpose. Any old index card will do for me. I don't keep my recipe cards in a cute little recipe holder any more. I'm not that organized. I keep a notebook of recipes I use most often, so if I write a recipe on an index card it just gets shoved into the handy side pockets of that notebook. Still, I love a recipe written on an index card because it is not so big that it takes up too much room on your kitchen counter and it's a good size to share with a fellow cook.

2. As I mentioned before, many of my to-do dates show up first on an index card. I keep a stack of them in the top left drawer of my office desk and when I learn of appointments or lunch dates via e-mail or a telephone call I record them on a card. Then, later when I am through with my work for the day, I take the card to the kitchen where I keep my calendar and transfer the information. Otherwise I would be hopping up and down from my desk all day to write in lunch dates, gynecologist appointments, dentist appointments, praise team rehearsals, etc. on my calendar, giving me just one more reason to avoid my work. I do not need another reason to avoid my work. I already have a very handy 232 of them. And why do I not keep my calendar in the office by my phone and computer? Because I just don't; that's why!

3. When I teach women's Bible studies I always begin the session by asking the women to fill out an index card for me with all their vital information: name, address, phone, e-mail, birthday, shoe size (not really!) etc. I do this on a 4x6 variety because women have lots of information. I also ask if they mind praying in public, if they have children in the nursery, and what other Bible studies they've taken recently. I put these all important cards in a 4x6 photo album for each class and, voila, I have a class roll with everything I need! I take these albums and make e-mail mailing lists from them and sell them for big bucks - again, not really! I do make e-mail mailing lists for myself and use them to contact my ladies whenever I need to. Handy dandy!

4. But my most favorite use for index cards is much more important to me and the very reason that I love them so. I love to write Bible verses on index cards. This year I have compiled a set of 14 scripture passages on index cards that I have put to memory! Beth Moore has sponsored a scripture memory challenge on her LPM Blog where we select a scripture of our own choice to memorize on the 1st and 15th of every month. I learned from her years ago the effectiveness of writing your memory verse on an index card, putting it in a small photo album and rehearsing your set of verses every day, meditating on them and memorizing them as you go. So I am pleased to say that I have kept up with the LPM challenge and I have stored all these scriptures in my heart where they are already doing me some mighty good!

5. Along those same lines, I gather scriptures for the Bible studies I write and the messages I speak and put those on index cards as well. Each Bible study or message gets its own photo album and I wear that thing out as I work on building the message or writing the study. I don't just do this so I have the scriptures handy. I do it so I can learn from the scriptures as I go over them and meditate on them. I want God to teach me and change me so I can write and teach from what He's first done in my own life. And for that reason perhaps more than any other, I love my index cards. For you see they have become somewhat of an agent of change and growth in my life. They represent the work that God is most currently doing in my heart, my attitudes, and my behavior. They are personal between me and the Almighty God of the universe. They are "our thing."

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